The basic principles of political science cooperation
and functioning of Euroregions



Among the current problems nowadays, which Ukraine has, one of the most actual is connected with definition of real content and effective directions of regional politics’ implementation. The evidence of this is the creation of a Commission on state regional conception’s development according to the presidential order in September 1999. The existence of clearly defined conception of state regional politics, which would meet the requirements of the European Union can become one of the important reasons, which is to influence positively the Ukrainian integration with the EU. The experience of the majority of Central European and Eastern European countries provide us with a persuasive proof[1].

The formation of inter-regional and trans-border cooperation between bordering regions and territories is an important aspect. One of such cooperation’s forms are Euro-regions. So, first of all, let’s characterize trans-border cooperation briefly as a means of immediate relation’s formation between bordering regions and territory society of the states that have a common border.

As far as „trans-border cooperation” we completely stick to the definition offered „European framework convention concerning trans-border cooperation between territory societies or authorities” (Madrid 21 of May 1980)[2]. According to the article of „Convention…”, trans-border cooperation are any common actions oriented on strengthening and development of good neighboring relations between territory societies or power bodies, which are under authority of two or several Agreement sides and signing necessary agreements or deals for this purpose. Trans-border cooperation is held within the competence of territory societies or power bodies, which are defined by internal legislation.

There’s another situation with the notion „Euroregion”. Nowadays general theoretical definition which contained extensive and acceptable list of basic features of this phenomenon does not exist. So, let’s try to formulate its basis.

At first, let’s identify the main inside parts that characterize the Euroregion[3]:

·   geographical – Euroregion is the territory which has particular geographical position,

·   political – a part of this territory is under legislative authority of sovereign states, which have common border,

·   administrative – bordering regions of states which have common border create Euroregion,

·   functional – Euroregion is a form of trans-border cooperation.

So, Euroregion is a form of trans-border cooperation between territory societies or local authorities of bordering regions of two or more states, which have a common border and where cooperation is targeted on common efforts’ coordination as well as implementation of agreed upon actions in different spheres of life according to national legislation and norms of international rights for the solving of common problems considering rights of people who inhabit this territory on both sides of the border[4].

Let’s also outline the list of peculiarities, typical for Euroregion’s functioning as a form of trans-border cooperation. To the first group of peculiarities we will refer legislative aspects of Euroregion’s functioning:

·   creation of Euroregion does not lead to appearing of the new administrative-regional formation with a judicial status;

·   legislative regulation on the territory of each Euroregion’s member is held according to the actual state legislation, where it belongs;

·   the governing Euroregion’s bodies perform coordinative functions and do not have power authorities, and also ca not replace power bodies, which work on the each member’s territory.

We would characterize the second group of peculiarities as a political. In this sense Euroregions:

·   do not act against state national interests;

·   they are not overstate formations;

·   in their activity they do not replace external political functions of the states, which administrative-territory units are their members.

The third group of peculiarities-historical. In overwhelming majority of cases Euroregions occupy territories, which have a common historical past and even once used to be inside one state. Sometimes, Euroregions consist of territories, which in more or less distant past had so-called „controversial status”, a right to possess such territory, that belonged to one state was the subject of argument for a neighboring one, which has a common border with it.

The peculiarities which belong to the forth group are connected with a national content of bordering territories. As a rule, they are multinational territories or regions, where representatives of several ethnical groups live. In many cases, representatives of multiple national minority live on the territories of common borders, which represents the national majority of a country, located on the opposite side of the border.

The fifth group of peculiarities is caused by the fact that territories or regions, which are inside Euroregions are peripheral relating to administrative centers of own countries.

The sixth group of peculiarities is that the existence of common trans-border problems are typical for all territories or regions which are inside Euroregions. To solve them it is necessary to combine the efforts of territory societies or power bodies of neighboring states. As a rule the problems are ecological problems, the problems of bordering infrastructure’s development of transportation and communication, rational usage of human resources, providing conditions for the development of national minorities.

The next important aspect concerning our subject is the correlation between trans-border cooperation and regional policy, the policy relating to regional development, and regional development itself. The question appears: is there any difference between these two notions? We think there is. And it is reasonable to use these notion’s definition, offered by the editing group including Vasil Hudak, Henrik Huitfeldt and Edward Meegan from Prague’s „Institute East–West”, which published a collection of articles entitled „Regional policy is advancing to the East: tendencies and lessons of policy concerning regional development in Central and Eastern Europe” in 1999.[5]

The authors think that „regional policy has to determine legislative and institutional frames and also relates to sector policy as well as regional institutions on the national level”. We will add that the achievement of some certain balance between state interests and regional development interests should be one of the main tasks of the regional policy.

The politics of regional development should mean „the implementation of regional policy on the local level, creation of institutional and legislative basis as well as actions which enable the involvement of local institutions and economic innovations on the subnational level”.

Regional development means „economic and social development in regions”.

Of course, the above mentioned definitions can hardly be considered extensive[6] but we still consider them to be sufficient to research the interaction between the defined phenomena and trans-border cooperation, as well as to define its place in the regional development.

First of all, it should be noted that the complete participation of bordering regions of any country in the development of trans-border cooperation requires a recognition of the subsidiary principle and its practical usage on its central power bodies’ level. That is the participation of bordering state regions in trans-border cooperation should be based on legislative and institutional principles, which are able to ensure a corresponding list of authorities and establishment of immediate relations for the border regional and local power bodies. All this causes the existence of clearly defined regional state policies, which should define the basic principles of correlations between a state and its regions, main directions of regional development, to establish general legislative frames, which would enable for regional and local power bodies the search for ensuring a stable social-economic growth, creating a solid ground for a stable development of the state.

Everything mentioned is absolutely according to contemporary policy tendencies concerning regional development in the majority of European countries. This policy should be oriented on activation and mobilization of regional potential and resources, but not on budget division between regions. By the way, such policy does not reject the rational usage of such an important mechanism for achievement of internal stability in a state as interregional equality. That’s why the sense of trans-border cooperation is especially embodied in Euroregions as in the most successful form of advancement to modern Europe and should be based on bordering regions’ transformation into „poles of growth”, which network is able to create the basis for constant development in the country, formed on its peripheral territories[7].

In such a way, the place of trans-border cooperation in the regional (territory) development is defined by its ability for mobilization and effective usage of the existing bordering regions’ or territories’ potential. The significance of trans-border cooperation is also in combining of potential possibilities and resources of bordering regions of two or more countries, which have a common border, with a view to solve the territory development tasks within trans-border regions[8].

Trans-border cooperation in Europe has a large geography and has been developing for a long time. Many centuries of European history is a history of transformation of the state borders. But if earlier they performed the divisional function, now it is vice versa – the uniting tendency erases international limiting lines, opening a new epoch of inter-state co-existence. Trans-border cooperation exists within very different structures, legislative systems and territories. Its main purpose while overcoming national borders’ barriers is to set the common work relating to social and ecological policy’s questions, infrastructure, culture, science and education, environmental protection.

There are no doubts concerning the reasons for such cooperation, because we live in the epoch when global ecological problems, migration of population, ideas, capital well-developed trade, global mass media get rid of the sense for any state isolation. Integration processes in Europe, which are growing cause actual need in choosing civilized forms of European cooperation on various levels. One of the most perspective and attractive options of its implementation is the interaction of territories, which belong to different countries within special unions and associations, which are more known under the name „Euroregion” today[9]. For the first time, the idea of such structures appeared in Western Europe after the Second World War as a way of new economic and social order’s construction in Europe, as well as a method of economic activation of territories. Now there are over 150 of such unions and the results of their half a century work practically proved the necessity of such trans-border cooperation’s form[10].

The formation of the similar groups goes on actively, and now their geography has been largely expanded due to countries of Eastern and Central Europe and the former USSR. Some historical changes as well as the processes of economic, political transformations which occupied these states’ territories became one of the reasons which caused the increasing interest in trans-border cooperation and the need for creation of the corresponding institutional structures.

[1] See: І. Зінько, Актуальні проблеми регіоналістики як науки, „Вісник Львівського університету”, Series Міжнародні відносини, Issue 5, Львів, ЛНУ ім. І. Франка, 2001, pp. 12–15.

[2] Є. Кіш, О. Вишняков, С. Максименка, І. Студеннікова, На шляху до Європи. Український досвід єврорегіонів, [The project of Kyiv center Institute East–West], Київ, Логос, 2000.

[3] На шляху до Європи. Український досвід єврорегіонів, pp. 94–95.

[4] Ibidem.

[5] Regional Policy Goes East: Essays on Friends and lessons Learned for Regional Development Policy in Central and Eastern Europe, Ed. by V. Hudak, H. Huitfeldt and E. J. Meegan, Prague 1999, p. 110.

[6] See also: В. О. Мартинюк, С. С. Троян, Політична географія та геополітика: Словник-довідник, Київ 2005, pp. 141–142.

[7] В. О. Мартинюк, С. С. Троян, Політична географія та геополітика, p. 142.

[8] See: Дж. Ітвелл, М. Еллмен, М. Карлссон, Д. М. Нуті, Дж. Шапіро, Трансформація та інтеграція: Формування майбутнього Центральної та Східної Європи, Translation from English, Київ, Стилос, 1998, p. 192.

[9] See: На шляху до Європи. Український досвід єврорегіонів, [The project of Kyiv center Institute EastWest], Київ, Логос, 2000, p. 224; Регіони Східної Європи: Інтеграційні очікування та конфронтаційні небезпеки: Матеріали Міжнародної наукової конференції (Чернівці, 1819 вересня 2000 р.), Чернівці, БУКРЕК, 2000, p. 260; Європейські інтеграційні процеси і транскордонне співробітництво, The fourth international scientific-practical conference, Lutsk, 1718 May 2007, Луцьк, 2007, p. 616.

[10] Європейські інтеграційні процеси і транскордонне співробітництво, p. 335.